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What Genre Is It?

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

We are all alike.


I’ve noted before the similarities between fantasy and science fiction, but I have started to read more broadly of late, trying other genres and finding… it doesn’t matter as much as we think. Its fine to have preferences. By all means, pick a favorite and support that genre, but perhaps we have more in common than you think.

Periodic Table of Genres
Periodic Table of Genres

Example:

A witch is a haunting a local river. She grants wishes but supplicant won't like the deal. She only makes the deal with people who are desperate and have little choice but to pay what she asks or die.


If we play up the haunting aspect, the drama and effect it is very possible this is going to be considered horror or dark fantasy. If the focus is given to the fantasy and magical element of how she goes about it, or she is thwarted by a local protagonist who uses sword and sorcery we have fantasy. Shift the setting to modern day, and you have urban fantasy. Add a dash of a romantic element and you have paranormal romance brewing. Call the witch a gangster or a pawn broker and you have pulp. Make the witch a magical medicine vending machine and it is sci-fi.


The core idea, which is literally a throw away notion, is the same in all of them. The implementation, and trappings of the tale are the genre.


I recently read a few horror stories, and it was my real introduction to the genre by anyone other than Steven King. The pacing was new, the methods of building suspense were new, but the story beats underneath… Those were all the same and that wasn’t a bad thing.


Maybe as I get older, I am just seeing what every author and reader in history has seen. There are finite numbers of stories. Person out of place, person out of time, person trying to find their way in the world, person trying to save XYZ, person trying to stop ABC, corrupted government, local bully… settings shift, methods of implementation shift, but the joy of experiencing a story type that you like can be found in multiple genres.


Do you like the underdog tale but you can’t seem to find more of the right story in your genre? Try finding it in an adjacent one. You might just find what you are looking for. Want a romantic read but can’t find the tone of the right romance author, try a romantic subgenre, and it just might match your interests. The different tales have far more in common than they have differences. Just like people.


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Anna Varlese
Anna Varlese
Oct 08, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

:) This is a fun one to think about.

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